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ATQ staff predictions for the 2015 Oregon Ducks football season

Oregon's season opener is just three days away. The ATQ staff weighs in with how they think the 2015 season will play out.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We are just over 72 hours away from the kickoff of the 2015 Oregon football season. The Ducks have closed the chapter on a magical 2014 season that ended with the program's first Heisman Trophy and nearly their first national title. Oregon has reloaded for 2015 with both new faces like Vernon Adams and Matt Hegarty, along with some familiar friends like Royce Freeman and DeForest Buckner.

The staff writers here at Addicted to Quack deliver their predictions for the 2015 season, including team MVP and how everything will shake out in the end.


Overall Record: 12-1, No. 3 seed in College Football Playoff

Team MVP: DeForest Buckner

As the season approaches, I'm getting more and more optimistic about this team. My main reason for optimism? Oddly enough, the defense. I think the front 7 will take a step forward this season and the safeties will allow the talented (though unproven) corners to shine. On offense, what's not to like? The running game should be the best in the Pac-12 once again, and Vernon Adams has the arm to get the most out of one of the top receiving corps in the country. I think Oregon goes into East Lansing and pulls out a tough win, and ends up winning the Pac-12. If they can get through with one loss, they'll be headed to the College Football Playoffs once again.


Overall Record: 11-2, Pac-12 Champions

MVP: DeForest Buckner

I think it's undeniable that the offense will take a step back this year. As much talent as there is at the skill positions, and as much game experience there is on the offensive line, you don't just lose an all-time college football great and pick up where you left off. The skill guys will make plays, and I hope our rushing numbers are up from last year, but I think the offense scores 7 fewer points per game.

On the flip side: I think the defense holds opponents to 7 fewer points per game. The defense is loaded on the front line, and for the first time since Alonso and Clay, there is tested linebacker talent coming back. The secondary is young, but got a lot of experience last year. I think the defensive unit takes a step forward. Ducks are still a top-10 team with all that talent and big-game experience, but have to scratch it out in a deep Pac-12. I think a 2-loss Pac-12 champ is almost inevitable. But I think the champ is Oregon.

Matt Takimoto

Overall Record: 12-2, Pac-12 Champions, Rose Bowl Champions

Team MVP: Royce Freeman, who breaks LaMichael James' single-season rushing record and earns a trip to NYC as a Heisman finalist.

I think beating Michigan State on the road is a tall order with a QB who's been in uniform a month. Talented as Vernon Adams is, I think we drop that one. And then that late October stretch starting with a night game in Tempe and ending with USC is brutal and scary, and I think we drop one in there, if not more.

I'll go on the homer side and say 12-2, Pac-12 champs, Rose Bowl champions. But a three or four-loss season, even before the bowl game, wouldn't surprise me.

Joel Gunderson

Overall Record: 12-2, losing in College Football Playoff Semifinal to TCU, who goes on to win national title.

Team MVP: Charles Nelson (Special teams, RB, WR, he'll do it all)

I've been saying it for months, and I'll continue it here: top-to-bottom, this is the best team Oregon has ever fielded. Now, I'm not including QB in that evaluation and, yes, that's obviously a vital part. However, Adams has to come in, move around a bit, dump it off to an insane skill position group, and get out of the way. I think all of his experience will allow him to do that.

And for the defense? I'm actually excited about our secondary; long on skill, incredibly talented and, after MSU -- win or lose -- they have essentially five games to get ready. If we can avoid the trap game (Cal), we'll head into ASU no worse than 8th or 9th in the country. I know we lose one game this season; I just don't know which one yet.


Overall Record: 11-3, Pac-12 North Champions

This is the year that we determine whether or not Helfrich was simply riding better people's coattails or if he's a genuinely good coach.

I don't think we have the ability to hang with Ohio State this year, but we have the talent to play with anyone else. What we lack is leadership. And that, unfortunately, is going to be our achilles' heel this season. I think we'll lose a game similar to 2013, where inexplicably we lost badly to an Arizona team. I think we'll still take the North, but we won't win the Pac-12. And I think we'll not win against Michigan State. So regular season we'll go 10-3, and we'll blow away our bowl competition to end 11-3.

Ryan Dosen

Overall Record: 12-1 and a spot in the College Football Playoff

Team MVP: Byron Marshall

I'm in the same boat as Jared - the more I think about this team, the higher my expectations get. The combination of depth the Ducks have at the skill positions and the improved offensive line should help with the learning curve for Vernon Adams. The secondary is obviously the biggest concern, but the front seven is so solid that it should take some of the pressure off the new guys behind them.

I think I may be the most optimistic here about the week two matchup with Michigan State. The Spartans have plenty of questions themselves, and I see Oregon leaving East Lansing with a W. The night game at Arizona State scares the hell out of me, and I think that is the one loss Oregon has in the regular season.

Shawn McFarland

Overall Record: 10-2, Pac-12 North Champions

Team MVP: Rolls Royce Freeman

Like the rest of the staff, I believe the week two Michigan State matchup will pose problems for the Ducks. Vernon Adams may be able to turn some heads and put his name on the map (although it may be already) against his former school Eastern Washington in week one, but MSU may bring him back down to earth.

What helps the team is that Stanford and USC don't pop up on the schedule until later in the season, giving the team (specifically Adams) plenty of time to adjust to the system. Regardless, it wouldn't shock me if Oregon dropped one of these matchups.

Sean Larson

Overall Record: 12-2, Pac-12 Champions, Rose Bowl Champions

Team MVP: Vernon Adams

I think this will still be a very successful season when it's all said and done. The offense has an insane amount of weapons and I'm more optimistic about the defense after looking at the initial depth chart. Adams will thrive with the Ducks, thanks in large part to having one of the best receiving corps in school history at his disposal. De'Forrest Buckner will give opposing offenses nightmares for weeks after and will help lead a very talented front seven for the Oregon defense.

I see them losing to Michigan State. I think Adams might get a little overwhelmed with his first big-time game with the whole country watching and make a late mistake that'll swing the game in the Spartans' favor. That night game against Arizona State in the desert also scares the shit out of me and I think the Sun Devils will come out on top, bumping Oregon out of the playoffs.

However, I do see Adams and the Ducks rebounding after a loss to ASU to win the division and get redemption by slaughtering the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 Championship Game, much like last year's win over Arizona in the title game after a loss earlier in the year. The Ducks will move on to Pasadena and win their third straight game at the Rose Bowl.

Rusty Ryan

Overall Record: 12-1, PAC-12 Champs, Loss in first round of CFB

Team MVP: DeForest Buckner

I've thought way too much about this team in the off-season. I've talked myself into almost every scenario occurring, other than losing to Washington. After watching some games and highlights during the summer I already miss Marcus Mariota and while Adams won't replace him we can only hope that with the strong skill players we can somehow reach the aggregate. 

I think Oregon matches up well against MSU and think they'll be favored in almost every game. With usc at home the Ducks have a huge advantage. 
I see Oregon losing one game this season. I don't know when it happens. But I have them beating ucla in the PAC-12 championship game and making the playoffs. Unfortunately they meet the Buckeyes in the semifinals and I'm upset all over again in January. 
I'm expecting a big year from the linebackers but think Buckner will be the MVP this season.